The Smallest Safari

Wildlife among the weeds

Bronwen Scott

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Robber Fly (Asilidae) hanging out in the long grass, waiting to steal the life of some unwary insect. Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland. © Bronwen Scott.

How it started

Somewhere else, this would be a glorious wildflower meadow but here in the Australian Wet Tropics, it is a park gone feral after weeks of rain. Before the mower came to slice off their heads, I wandered over with the camera to take their portraits.

How it proceeded

I was quickly distracted from the flowers. The uncut turf was filled with tiny wildlife and in the moments when the sun elbowed its way through the clouds, I pointed my camera towards all the hopping, buzzing, crawling creatures I could see.

Join me among the weeds on the smallest safari.

Hoverfly (Syrphidae) coming in to land. When the sun is out, Asteraceae are covered in flies and native bees, living it up among the pollen. Flies are under-rated pollinators. Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott.
Flies love flowers! Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott.
Common Grass-blue (Zizina otis, Lycaenidae) uncommonly sitting still long enough for a photo. Their caterpillars feed on clover and other peas, which is why they thrive in areas with paddocks, parks and sports ovals.. Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott.
Paper Wasp on grass flowers. Photo taken from a respectful/cowardly distance. Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott.
Tiny grasshoppers with almost perfect camouflage: juvenile left, adult right. Both were very, very small, completely unlike the stonking great Valanga, which is still eating my Claudie Laurel, the greedy so-and-so. Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott.
And an equally tiny cricket. Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott.

You don’t have to clamber into a Land Rover and roar around the savannah to go on safari. You can do it in your garden, local park or national park. Once you refocus onto small things, you can see animals everywhere. (Although don’t do this if you actually are in the savannah, especially in Africa, because of the rather larger animals you might miss if you’re head down over giraffe dung looking at beetles.)

Celebrate the small!

Hoverfly head down unaware of the photographer. There is no giraffe dung in this photo. Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott.

How it ended

Now I need to do stretches to put right what bending over with a camera put wrong. Yes, I could have crouched but the ground was rain-softened and uneven. Unlike Weebles, I wobble and then do, in fact, fall down. Also there are ants. Lots and lots of ants. So when you look at these photos, imagine a soundtrack of distant traffic, Bar-shouldered Doves (they recite the name of a former Prime Minister — ‘Bob Hawke, Bob Hawke’) and me swearing as ants bite my feet.

(But still remember to celebrate the small.)

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Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com